Thursday, January 2, 2020


Beginning today, January 2, 2020, St. Anne Church, under my pastorate, will suspend the common chalice as the flu season has reached epidemic proportions in Georgia and other states.

We know that contagious diseases can be spread by drinking after someone, even after one person, let alone scores of people. Young people are susceptible to Meningitis, a deadly bacteria caught by drinking after someone.

In fact in Augusta I offered a Requiem Mass for a college freshman who caught this deadly disease after drinking from the same can of coke as her boyfriend.

If churches were under most local health departments which do restaurant inspections, we would be cited as a church serving the Precious Blood to all from a common chalice as being a risk to public health.

Could you even imagine a grocery store offering free samples of new brand of orange juice, by simply placing a glass of it on a table and inviting all to sample it from the common glass??????


Fr Joseph Mack said...

The other reason why I suspended the practice here was the increased incidence of profanation of the Sacred Species. The current flooring around the main altar is tile. I was finding dried droplets where the EMHC's were receiving prior to heading to their stations.

Anonymous said...

This is just common sense. Why stop the practice just for the flu season? I would never, at any time of the year, drink from a common cup at some store or restaurant, no matter what they were giving away.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I agree with both of the first two comments. I just finished my 9 AM daily Mass where normally we have two common chalices. There is a ritual of kinds to get Holy Communion and the chalice to the Extraordinary Ministers. It is cumbersome and the dress of some of the EMs is less than desirable at daily Mass. It was much nicer, not having to do this after I concluded the Sacrifice.

Fr. Mack, your concern actually should be #1 and contagion #2. Good point and yes, I have found the same thing on the tile floor around the altar.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

It is not "common sense" to conclude that it is necessary to suspend the common cup for communion in order to prevent an epidemic.

It is hysteria which, itself, is all too common nowadays.

"No episode of disease attributable to the shared communion cup has ever been reported. Currently available data do not provide any support for suggesting that the practice of sharing a common communion cup should be abandoned because it might spread infection." (The hazard of infection from the shared communion cup. Gill ON.
J Infect. 1988 Jan;16(1):3-23. Review. PMID: 3284951)

"The presence of bacteria on the common cup has been established previously, albeit not necessarily after a Eucharistic service. No study, however, including theirs, has shown transmission of these organisms from one communicant to another. More important, I can find no evidence after searching the literature that establishes inoculation and infection through this religious custom." (Annals of Internal Medicine, Letters |1 October 1993, More on the Common Communion Cup, Gregory L. Sheehy, MD)

"The best information we have regarding the risk of transmission of disease from the use of a common Communion cup is that the risk is “very low.” A report by the Center for Disease Control that was recently published in the American Journal of Infection Control stated that “the risk for infectious disease transmission by a common communion cup is very low, and appropriate safeguards-that is, wiping the interior and exterior rim between communicants, use of care to rotate the cloth during use, and use of a clean cloth for each service-would further diminish this risk.” Nevertheless, the CDC advises – and we agree – that persons with an “active respiratory infection, e.g., a cold or flu,” should refrain from using the common cup." (St. Thomas More Church Bulletin, January 23, 2018)

"Within the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), the consensus of the National Center for Infectious Diseases and the National Center for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, and Tuberculosis is that a theoretic risk of transmitting infectious diseases by using a common communion cup exists, but that the risk is so small that it is undetectable. (American Journal of Infection Control October 1998 * Volume 26 * Number 5 Risk of Infectious Disease Transmission from a Common Communion Cup)

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Mike, quoting 1988 and 1993 studies with an ideology to promote from progressive Catholics about the common chalice use and the use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion is useless today and you know it as well as everyone else who reads my blog.

If you have an auto-immune deficiency, you are even more susceptible. And who in the Name of God and all that is Holy can trust that any lay Catholic would refrain from the common chalice when they are sick, especially if they believe, as many do erroneously, that God would protect anyone drinking from the common Chalice no matter how many sick people receive from it.

I have had a gastroenterologist who is a permanent deacon tell me that he was required to purify the common chalices at the altar after Holy Communion and drink the ablutions. He contracted a bacterial infection that affected his intestines and he almost died from it.

I have had a similar occurrence and other issues with ablutions too.

When health concerns take a back seat to liturgical ideologies, we are opening ourselves to ongoing scandal and lawsuits.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Allan, if you have data that show that the use of the common cup for communion is a threat, post it. Old data is not unreliable until it is shown to be so, and your phobia is not data.

Also, data is not ideology. Your regular ranting about the imaginary dangers posed by the use of the common cup is ideology.

When irrational health concerns that have no basis in science or data drive pastoral practice, the result is not going to be beneficial to anyone.

If you were concerned about lawsuits - and you are not - you would have installed automatic doors on every church where you have served to protect people from touching door handles.

If you were concerned about the health of your parishioners - and you are not - you would have demanded that anyone with a cold or other communicable disease wear a face mask when attending a function at your church.

You and others would do well to read and learn from the little book, "How We Know What Isn't So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life" by Thomas Gilovich. "When can we trust what we believe—that "teams and players have winning streaks," that "flattery works," or that "the more people who agree, the more likely they are to be right"—and when are such beliefs suspect? Thomas Gilovich offers a guide to the fallacy of the obvious in everyday life. Illustrating his points with examples, and supporting them with the latest research findings, he documents the cognitive, social, and motivational processes that distort our thoughts, beliefs, judgments and decisions. In a rapidly changing world, the biases and stereotypes that help us process an overload of complex information inevitably distort what we would like to believe is reality. Awareness of our propensity to make these systematic errors, Gilovich argues, is the first step to more effective analysis and action."

Or, as I suspect, you will choose to continue living in your make believe world with your cockamamie conclusions and your preposterous predilections

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Mike, don't be silly! I can't demand people wash their hands after #1 or #2, stay out of church when sick, wear face masks or anything else of the sort. I can, though, eliminate the common chalice. It's the least I can and must do.I am sure you will follow suit if you haven't yet beat me to the punch.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Allan, you're the one who is being silly. You're making claims about the dangers of the common cup that are based on your own irrational fears, not on ANY data.

If you know of that data, cite it.

But, of course, for ideologues like you, data is meaningless. Facts don't matter. Common sense is determined by your own fears and worries.

And, as Albert Einstein is reported to have said, "Common Sense Is Nothing More Than a Deposit of Prejudices Laid Down in the Mind Before Age Eighteen."

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Mike you did away with the common chalice at last year's epidemic while I did not. Physician heal thy self.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Or better yet take the plank out of your eye and leave the splinter in mine alone.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

No data, I see. Diversions, but no data.

John said...

The use of the common cup dates back to the dawn of the Protestant rebellion in late Middle Ages. Many Catholic people were killed by Protestant armies then and many more experienced persecution because they did not go along with this rebellious practice. After V-2 this practice was forced upon the Church by liberal clerical ideologues. They are still here and militant about the practice even though they understand that receiving the host alone, except for the priest offering the Mss, is all that is required for a valid reception.

This practice and other such liturgical innovations in addition to engendering unnecessary controversies have lead to de facto schism in the Church. The scandals are piling up with each additional act of making a mess.

Anonymous said...

"After V-2 this practice was forced upon the Church by liberal clerical ideologues."

No one has ever forced you to receive the Precious Blood from the common Communion cup.

"This practice and other such liturgical innovations..."

This "innovation" was established by the Lord Himself. "Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins." (Matthew 26:27-28)

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

Albert Einstein also reported to have said priests who deny the possibility of the spread of infectious diseases, such as the flu, by drinking out of a common cup have no medical training and should not disparage those who have concerns.


God bless.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Bee, first, I've never denied the possibility of the spread of infections diseases, such as the flu, by drinking from the common cup.

In fact, I have acknowledged this numerous times. Here's but one example, the exchange between Fr. McDonald and me from November 12, 2017:

Fr. McDonald: "It is in fact factual that one can contract a bacteria especially if the chalice is not made of 18 carrot gold or silver, say, for instance, pewter, glass or pottery, which are making a come back."

My response: "Yes, it is, and I have acknowledged this here repeatedly. Contacting bacteria, however, is not the same as becoming ill due to bacterial contact."

So, your accusation is false.

Second, I've referred to and quoted studies carried out by medical professionals including, doctors, nurses, and epidemiologists. So the idea that I, a priest, with no medical training, am making a claim that would be of concern to Einstein is, again, simply wrong. The data is from folks with vastly more medical training, clinical experience, and, I must say, common sense, than the folks here who are overly worried about epidemics and plagues.

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

Father Kavanaugh, one thing you are is predictable.

God bless.

Anonymous said...

Bee - And in this instance, you were wrong. Twice.

Anonymous said...

I've said it again and again. INTINCTION!! The Host can be simply dipped into the Precious Blood and placed on the tongue of the communicant. That way, those who avoid the "common cup" because they don't want to drink from a cup that many others have drunk from would be able to receive both Species. It would solve the problem of people in different places receiving the Host and popping it in their mouth irreverently like a piece of candy, etc. Have you ever seen the gyrations people holding an infant in their arms make when insisting they receive in the hand? Now, if we could just get clergy and EMHC to stop putting their hand on the maybe dirty and germy hair of those going up for a "participation trophy blessing" and then reaching in for a Host...

John Nolan said...

Intinction (with a spoon) has long been the custom in the Greek Church, along with the use of leavened bread. At certain times and in certain places intinction was used in the Latin Church, but the practice was repeatedly condemned, not least on theological grounds - it does not separate the acts of eating and drinking.

Communion in both kinds for the laity was discontinued in the course of the thirteenth century, no doubt for practical reasons; and this was at a time when people communicated but rarely. Protestants held that the Sacrament was not valid unless it was received under both species, which is not Catholic teaching.

Vatican II wanted to restore the Chalice to the laity in particular and exceptional circumstances, for example the bride and groom at a Nuptial Mass. It was the bishops, both here and in the US, who decided to allow this at all Masses. (It's not prevalent in continental Europe.) This coincided with the introduction of EMHC in the 1980s, and was not unconnected with this phenomenon. At the same time their lordships ruled against intinction as it would make the army of mostly female EMHC surplus to requirements (they actually admitted this, and many still see EMs as a way of empowering the laity).

In other words they did the right thing for the wrong reasons. Intinction would make reception in both kinds more or less compulsory and it is not the tradition in the Western Church. Far better to have the laity receive in one kind only, unless special conditions apply. And if Extraordinary Monsters were dispensed with, the problem of inappropriate attire would not arise.

Brent Stubbs said...

I recommend Gigerenzer on this topic as an alternative to Gilovich. That to say, the topic is complicated. While there are no reported cases of marriages ending by a failure to take out the trash, I am not irrational to do so nor do I need to wait on data for it. However, I need not think the height of a plane makes it more probable that I will die than in a car. The evidence doesn't support it. The evidence does support I would die more certainly.